Embracing and Overcoming Fears in the Current Climate

Some memories of which my Facebook profile reminds me on a daily basis are great, some funny, but some not so great. I guess I tend to post all sorts of things, so I should expect that.

Today I was reminded of a not so pleasant incident. A year ago from today I was humiliated by a flight attendant and pilot, and escorted off a plane by transportation police, and detained for “suspicious behavior” and “passenger disturbance” by officers from homeland security during a United Airlines return flight from a nice trip to Ottawa. They were wrong about this “disturbance,” obviously. Though it was such a small act of injustice towards me, there are obviously much bigger problems, I have forgotten the incident of course, and I can try to laugh about it now, I guess, but I still remember the feeling quite clear, and with confidence, that my identity was in question, was part of the reason for the unnecessary suspicions and behaviors toward me, and that it was indeed a racist and prejudicial response with someone abusing their “power.”

Additionally, though I have experienced worse situations, it just happened to be a few weeks after the Paris attacks, which seemed to coincide with a wave of similar incidences happening to many people with a similar identity across the country. It was a sense of helplessness I felt, resulting fear (in different ways from both sides), and normalization of these types of acts in our culture that concerned me. It seems that only a fraction of the hundreds of incidences like this that are reported are actually taken seriously, since there are just so many. It is sad to think that this has become so normalized in our culture in America. But I knew at the time that I was just another person added to the pile of racially profiled incidences with airlines (at airport security, in-flight, off-flight, etc.) that have increased exponentially the past few years and since 9/11.

It is interesting that this memory came up today from exactly one year ago, of a small incident that symbolized “fear”, fear of the flight attendant and pilot, and the airline, and the officers, towards me for whatever reasons they had, and my resulting fear of flying again that sort of continued for many months afterwards. The memory came up while I was in the middle of writing a post today about how we must choose not be afraid of the “gloom” and “doom” that many of us are expecting to come ….

I can say, particularly, as a survivor of suicide, someone who has struggled with anxiety and depression for all of my teen and adult life so far, I lived more than half my life swimming with many many many fears. One of the more unsettling and significant fears was that one day I would inevitably take my own life. There were plans, there were letters. It was just a matter of the right time. Some of the few people who I told this to, didn’t take me seriously at times, which made me even more afraid. But that discussion is for another time. Actually, I had written just this last month of October, alongside my involvement with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s 10th Annual DC Community Walk for Suicide Prevention, about how I achieved an insurmountable freedom, quite recently this past year, of which I thought would never be possible: that simple desire to “live.” But that desire to live involves being liberated from the fears that controlled me and these past few years, I feel I have slowly conquered quite a few fears, each in isolation, and will continue to make strides going forward.

But after achieving this burning desire to “live,” and without these painstaking fears that seemed to have stunted me from growing at a personal and professional level, I refuse to allow the environment of growing fear that surrounds me in this new climate to make me afraid to live again, in my own skin, with all the intersections of my identity I have proudly embraced, (including my disability). This is partly why, I didn’t vote for the “lesser evil,” this election season, I didn’t want to surrender to fear, I didn’t want to vote based on fears of the alternative. And now that the alternative is coming, people around me, on social media, in the news, etc. have been expressing their fears. And they are completely legitimate….

For me, at a very personal level, I continue to choose not to be afraid of “what’s to come” largely because I refuse to live in fear any longer than I already have. I have chosen to embrace life, as it is, which is not easy to do especially for someone struggling with my condition, and it has taken a long time, and a whole lot of work, to get there.

As many have stated, we cannot be afraid, because it is that fear that gave rise to such ideologies and evils dominating our world today, it is that fear that leads to these terrible injustices….we do to each other, and we may in turn, do to ourselves…we cannot sink to that, we must be bold…. And man….I know now, what I wish I had known earlier, though it’s better late than never (especially in this case)…..that it would have been a masterfully grave injustice to myself, my family, my friends, and God, but more importantly, myself, if I followed through with my plans to end my life… If I allowed those fears to destroy me….. We cannot allow these fears confronting us today, to destroy us…

I chose to embark on an “inward revolution,” and fight back against those fears, and that is how I will live my life going forward… as a revolutionary in my own right….

We cannot give into the fear…. we need to think about the future generations, and ensure our voices are heard with whatever we can do… “Actions express priorities,” said our good friend Gandhi, we need to ensure that we ACT more than just speak up, especially in the coming years.

“Everybody dies, but not everybody ‘lives’….”

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